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Nov 12 - Dec 31, 2020

Salinas Valley Dream Academy


Salinas Valley Dream Academy inspires, engages, and empowers high school students to strive for higher education while becoming active participants and servant leaders in their community.

The Big Idea

The Salinas Valley Dream Academy helps bring higher education to over 100 high school students from schools in Monterey County including Alisal, Alvarez, Gonzales, and Soledad high schools. Many of their students come from low-income families. By informing and motivating underprivileged young people in the community about their options for college, those young people ultimately raise up the entire community. Funds go to the Give Me Wings project, in which the academy will provide transportation to visit San Jose State, Santa Clara University, Sacramento State, UC Davis, Cal Poly, UCLA, USC, CSU Long Beach, and UC Santa Barbara. The outing includes presentations from community leaders, college admissions experts and college and university staff—offering important information necessary to be successful in high school and college and an understanding of the college admissions and financial aid process.

I’ve been lucky enough to have participated in the Dream Academy for two years. Though both of my parents are farmworkers and I had no idea how I would be able to raise enough money to participate in the Dream Academy, I was determined to find a way because I knew how much I would grow in this program. Besides the amazing guest speakers and community service we did, we also went to empowering conferences at Stanford University and Google which planted a seed in my mind about the many career opportunities out there for me. I am very blessed to have been part of such a great program like the Dream Academy because it opens your eyes to who you can be and what you can achieve in life.

- Gisselle Cortez, a first-generation college student and 2020 graduate of UCLA